Out and back or getting lost in Offaly?

Last Wednesday I was visiting Offaly for work. Offaly is famous for lots of things (not of which are too important if you come from Cork). The most interesting thing for anybody interested in running is that Pauline Curley hails from Tullamore.

With this in mind I though there must be some pretty decent runs I could do if I could just duck out of the regulation ‘work lunch’. After our meeting I made my excuses and headed for the road home. There is a pretty boring out and back 6 miler that I have done before from this location that I had intended to do again. I hadn’t eaten much and thought 6 miles was about all I could cope with.I find these out and back runs to be a head wrecker as you get to experience the same footpath twice – no sense of achievement!

As I was changing into my gear I spotted a fairly hefty looking guy trotting out from a country road. I opened up the SatNav in the car and it looked like he had come from a  6 mile loop that would be much more interesting. He  didn’t look like he could have done more than 4 miles on the trot so I decided that this ‘6 mile loop’ would be a better option. I memorised the route in my head (turn left at the second junction, go under the railway bridge, keep going until you meet the main road and about a mile back to the car).

So off I went….

After 3 or 4 miles the run itself was going well – all 7@2x – 7:3x miles. The countryside was flat and Arctic cold (this will be important later) and I was starting to have a few doubts about my distance estimation from the SatNav. Still, on I went and in the middle of nowhere I met a girl running in the opposite direction. Now I thought I must be back on track as she looked like she was one of those ‘Ladies Mini-Marathon’ runners.

I stopped her and asked her if I was on the right track for heading back to Tullamore. She said ‘oh, you’re looking for the Tesco road‘. ‘That’s the one‘ I replied. She said ‘keep going the way you are for about 3 miles and you’ll be on the Tesco road‘. I thanked her and set off again. I assumed I was about 3 miles from the Tesco store and this added to my 4.5 miles already run and a bit back to the car would make it an 8 miler. Not bad for a lunchtime run on nothing more than a bowl of porridge and a scone.

How wrong was I?…….about 4 miles wrong.

It turned out to be another 2 miles to the ‘Tesco road’ which happens to be dead straight for about 5 or 6 miles. I arrived at the ‘Tesco road’ after about 6.5 miles and was starting to feel the hunger pangs. Another mile and a bit I told myself and I’d be back at the car. This was something I would be repeating over and over to myself for another 4 miles. I hadn’t realised that the ‘Tesco road’ was 5 or 6 miles of dead straight road. When I finally reached the Tesco store I realised that I had another mile back to the car.

After 11.6 miles I made it back to the car, shagged, frozen and promising to use ‘map-my-run’ a bit more before I start going out on any more ‘exploratory’ runs around Offaly. I also realised that they must be made of tough stuff in Tullamore in the running community.

The up-side was all the miles stayed at 7:2x – 7:3xmin/mile and the HR stayed below 160 so I must have done something right.

That said,  I got a wicked head cold as a result of my running in the Arctic air so my weekly mileage will be back to more modest levels.

No photographs either as I opened my bag this morning to find my trusty Canon DSLR is several pieces. I just realised that it had been crushed yesterday by an excavator on site. I talked to the builder and as I was about to pay him I will have to hold back the cost of a new camera. Still, a bit of retail therapy never hurt anyone.

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